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Made In America Belt Sander for Sharpening?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by theunconquoredone, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. theunconquoredone


    Jan 18, 2017
    Hello everyone!

    I found my way here after inheriting a knife collection from my grandfather, learning about them, and catching the bug to get more involved with blades.

    I've lurked and learned a lot, but I have a question to which I couldn't find an answer, so I finally registered.

    My father uses the Harbor Freight 1x30 sander for sharpening. I've used it for quite some time and gotten relatively proficient, but he lives an hour away and I'd like to get my own setup at home. However, I'd prefer something made in the USA.

    I've looked at the Kalamazoo 1SM 1x42, but I like the ability to use it horizontally and that will only run vertically from everything I've seen. I also like that it runs at a lower RPM than the HF 1x30.

    Does anyone have a suggestion for a Made in America belt sander that will work well horizontally for sharpening, preferably at closer to 1800RPM?
  2. cbwx34


    Dec 27, 2004

    WorkSharp Tools w/ the "Blade Grinding Attachment"...


    ... U.S. made, variable speed, made for sharpening. :thumbup:
  3. rpttrsn


    Nov 1, 2006
    Kalamazoo 1x42 is a great belt grinder. Have used it for sharpening etc. for many years. Set up a way to adjust the angle of the grinder making it easy to sharpen at different angles. You will not be sorry with this machine. IMO
  4. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Another vote for the Kalamazoo. It's great.
  5. pwest


    Apr 10, 2013
  6. theunconquoredone


    Jan 18, 2017
    Thanks for the votes of confidence and the suggestions. I'll look into them.

    For those of you that have used the Kalamazoo...a follow up question if I may.

    All of the sharpening I've done with a belt sander has been done horizontally, with the belt traveling away from me, so I can see the burr. The reason that I didn't order the Kalamazoo right away was that with the belt vertical and traveling downward, I wouldn't be able to see this as I went. Does this cause any issues, or do you just pull the blade to the side under a light to check after a couple of passes?

    Or just reverse the motor so the belt moves upward, I suppose.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2017
  7. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    You get used to the belt direction.
  8. cbwx34


    Dec 27, 2004
    Do you plan on doing more than sharpening? I've looked at the Kaly a few times... great machine I'm sure... just seems a bit too much unless you're looking at getting more into knife making or commercial sharpening, for several reasons (size, setup needed, to name a couple).

    The Viel that pwest linked to would be a better alternative for what you seem interested in. It's more compact, runs at 1350rpm (with a 1725 motor), and can be run horizontally with no modification needed. I've had one for years... has held up well and does a great job. Like you, I prefer sharpening horizontal... although the machine can be used either way.

    Still, I've been using the WorkSharp I referenced earlier for quite a while now... with the BGA, it's a great little setup... perfect for sharpening and even doing repairs. (Saw a video this a.m. where Benchmade is using it at ShotShow to perform their "LifeSharp" repairs and sharpening). Variable Speed is a great bonus feature to have. (Some have complained about the cost of the WorkSharp belts, although I've found them to last quite a while... there are alternatives showing up on the market).

    I'm sure the Kaly would work out... just seems like there's better alternatives for what you're looking for.
  9. theunconquoredone


    Jan 18, 2017
    I would like the option of getting into knife making and commercial sharpening, which is one of the reasons I'm looking at something more substantial than the cheaper Chinese options. I'm definitely looking at the Viel as well...I hadn't heard of that one before. But, I also like to buy a tool once, so I always put quality before price.

    The Work Sharp will probably find its way home at some point too...or it might find a home at the hunting shack. I love how compact it is, and I can definitely see where it would come in handy.
  10. Roamad


    Feb 1, 2016
    +1 on the Kalamazoo. Had mine for a year and I've been very happy with it. And it doesn't require any setup. Mine came fully assembled right out of the box, totally plug-n-play, bolted to a slab of particle board. You can leave it like that and just clamp it to any table, which makes it mobile. Or mount it permanently to a bench. I have mine mounted fairly high on a bench, so the grinding/sharpening action takes place nearly at eye level when I'm standing. Helps a lot to reduce fatigue.

    Also, regarding your sharpening habits. To each his own. But I was taught when using a belt sander to work so the belt is rotating *into* the blade, not away, so the cutting edge is the first thing the rotating belt contacts. Reason for that is so you can actually *see* what the belt is doing to the edge. Something to consider, especially if you plan to get into knifemaking or commercial sharpening.
  11. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007
    The Kalamazoo is great!

    I mainly use mine for sharpening but it also does well with regrinds and most other grinding tasks. For actual knife making I think the belt is not wide enough and platen not good enough. Personally, I would want a 2x72 for knifemaking but the k-zoo can definitely get you started.
  12. pwest


    Apr 10, 2013
    I agree w/this, but put a reversing motor/switch on my Viel for finishing--I don't strop with the belt rotating into the blade!
  13. pjwoolw

    pjwoolw Sharpening guy

    Nov 12, 2012
    The Viel unit can be used vertically and horizontally out of the box. Another plus is that there are many attachments available from Viel for other sharpening tasks. Go with a 3/8 HP or 1/2 HP motor if you go that route.

    The Kalamazoo at one time could be had for about the same price but those days seem to be over. So by the time you add a Reich platen and build a mount so you can use it vertically and horizontally, replace the idler bearing its about $100.00 more money. Also the Baldor motors are hit and miss as far as quality these days. This is just my experience. I always seem to get bad / noisy motors.

    Both are good units that I've used for years.

    All in all if you want something you can procure and use out or the box the Viel is the better buy. Buy direct from Viel.
  14. OldNavy


    Sep 14, 2013
  15. theunconquoredone


    Jan 18, 2017
    Thanks for the feedback everyone. I ended up going with the Viel after doing some more thorough review, for the following reasons:

    -Option to adjust vertically or horizontally
    -Available accessories for sharpening a variety of items
    -Lower Overall Cost

    I ordered it with a 1/3 HP motor. Although this machine may be able to handle some minor grinding tasks beyond sharpening, sharpening will be its primary purpose. I think my idea with the Kalamazoo was to try to make it fulfill too many potential uses. I decided in the end that this was for sharpening, and I'll purchase a grinding machine for that purpose if I end up needing one.

    Thanks again for all your help!
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2017

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